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What Caused Aaron Rodgers' Injury? The Turf? The Playcalling? I Say it All Goes Back to Bill Belichick.

Any time the football world is rocked with such a disturbance in The Force that we can hear millions of voices crying out and then being suddenly silenced, it's only natural that we'd all demand answers. 

What could cause such a cataclysmic event? Was it, as some suggest, the lousy conditions of the Met Life turf? Is it, as others claim, the fault of the Jets blocking schemes, that Rodgers himself reportedly objected to?

Those are possibly contributing factors. But I'm laying this catastrophe directly at the feet of one man. One diabolical, sinister, brilliant Croatian mastermind. The undisputed Heavyweight Draft Trade Champion of the World.

The term "provenance" (from the French provenir, "to come from") is the study of the chronology of the ownership, custody or location of some historical object. In this case, if you trace the provenance of the play that blew out Rodgers' Achilles, you'll find it all began with a draft day move Bill Belichick made in the 1st round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Namely, this one:

The trade in question was the one where the Patriots swapped picks with Pittsburgh from No. 14 to No. 17, and took Christian Gonzalez. In moving up, the Steelers leapfrogged the Jets, sitting at No. 15:

[The] move down was especially jarring because I was expecting the Pats to make the obvious choice, which was [Georgia offensive tackle] Broderick Jones. Not only the last Round 1-caliber talent at an area of need, but a guy the Jets were dying to get after moving behind New England in the Aaron Rodgers deal. 

It felt for a minute there like Bill Belichick had played himself. And did a huge favor for the franchise he hates like Tucker Carlson hates Fox. Then this happened:

And then it all made sense. Instead of getting the guy they coveted, without having to make a move, the one they thought they had for one brief, shining moment, the Jets had the rug pulled out from under them. Instead, they used their entire clock (and honestly, it seemed like they went way beyond their allotted time and were in danger of getting drowned out by the Oscars orchestra play-off theme) before finally settling for defensive end Will McDonald IV. …

I think everyone in New England was bracing themselves for something bananas when [Belichick] traded out of the 14th pick. Broderick Jones of Georgia, the offensive tackle I thought he wanted was still on the board. But by dropping down to 17 (and adding the 120th pick) he moved behind the Jets who are desperate for O-line help. But the team he traded with was Pittsburgh, who crushed their dreams of finding Aaron Rodgers protection this year by grabbing Jones. Which was so perfect you have to assume GM Bill checked with the Steelers to confirm that's who they were taking.

And how good is this wicked, nefarious scheme looking right now, a few hours after it came to fruition?

The two Jets tackles in the game at that point were Mekhi Becton, who when healthy, is one of the best in the business. The other was Duane Brown, a 38 year old who's on his fourth team. Yes, he tried to throw the kinds of cut block that Rodgers reportedly expressed disdain for. And he whiffed. It happens to the best of them. On the night, Brown had 27 dropbacks and was blamed for that one sack, one QB hit, and two hurries. All in all, not the worst performance. But it's not on him; it's on the man who put him there instead of Broderick Jones. 

Jones for his part, didn't start Sunday for Pittsburgh. Much to the consternation of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Paging Broderick Jones? Dan Moore Jr. was the worst tackle in the NFL in Week 1     

It was simply a horrific day for the third-year lineman as he clings to the starting left tackle job ahead of first-round draft pick Broderick Jones. … Many in the Steelers orbit speculated during the preseason that the team would be better off sticking with Moore’s veteran savvy while facing tough pass rushers … then turning to Brockerick Jones once the schedule lightens up.  Sunday could not have gone much worse with Jones in there, though, so it’s fair to wonder if we might see Jones sooner than than later if Moore’s struggles continue. 

Jones did see some action late in the game. And unlike Dan Moore, had no problem with Bosa or anyone else on the Niners front-7, credited with 100% pass blocking efficiency by Pro Football Focus in limited action. He will undoubtedly get his shot sooner rather than later. The Steelers have that luxury. They made the move with New England and got their man, regardless of how fast they want to bring him along.

The Jets? They do not. They lost that luxury once the Dark Lord picking one spot ahead of them found the one trading partner he could trust to steal Jones away from the Jets and pulled the trigger on a deal. Now for them it's too late. The Pats long con worked better than anyone could ever have imagined. Anyone that is, besides Bill Belichick, who undoubtedly saw this coming back there when he picked up the phone in the War Room.

I know I'll never have the audacity to question one of his draft day trades ever again.